Weather Shield

Why choose thermally broken windows on your building projects?

Foreword by Ian Thompson, Editor

In this video, Matt delves into the science and perks of selecting thermally broken windows for your building endeavors, highlighting how these windows can significantly reduce heat loss and gain in our homes.

Join us on a site visit where Matt meets Jimmy from Weather Shield Windows and Doors to take a closer look at their View collection. Primarily made with aluminum, these windows and doors typically boast thinner sight lines than other window systems crafted from materials such as wood and UPVC, which if employed correctly can create a great design feature.

The core objective of today’s video is to enlighten viewers about the energy conservation benefits associated with thermally broken windows for steel and aluminum profiles in particular. If your choice leans towards wooden windows, you won’t need to thermally break the window profile because the wood itself is thermally efficient.

Why? Because wood, being a poor conductor, essentially functions as the plastic thermal break in an aluminum window profile. Hence, it’s paramount to enquire about the overall thermal performance of the finished window from your window supplier. This includes aspects like your preference for double or triple glazing, and the type of gas used in the glazing units, as these elements also influence the thermal performance. Remember, whatever glazing system you use they are still likely to be the least efficient part of your building envelope, so consider your glazing size carefully. The smaller, the better, but of course this usually means a compromise on the design apeal of your building, so my recomendation is size your windows as small as possible when orientating your house to the poles, and as larger towards the equator.

When it comes to picking out windows and doors, my order of specification priority is:

  1. Thermal performance
  2. Style
  3. User functionality i.e. tilt and turn
  4. Cost

Splurging on high-performing and aesthetically pleasing windows can markedly boost a house’s perceived quality and value. Settling for cheap windows, on the other hand, often leads to a noticeable compromise in quality and style – and it still baffles me today how many designers, group home builders, and developers get this wrong. But one thing is for sure, if you choose aluminium or steel windows and doors, spend a few extra dollars and specify thermally broken windows, the energy savings will pay for themselves quite quickly.

So, it’s advised to explore your options, even on an international scale, as quality high-performance windows and expensive windows don’t always go hand in hand.

Revolutionizing Modern Homes: Thermally Broken Windows & Doors Unveiled

Thermally Broken Windows explained

Video Transcript

You know in my 30 years of building, I’ve installed a lot of windows. I’ve put in steel windows, I’ve built steel windows, I’ve put in aluminum and wood, fiberglass and vinyl – pretty much every style out there. But in the build show today, we’re going to show you a window that you may not know about.

This is going to be the View collection from Weather Shield. It looks like a steel window – real nice sight lines, but it’s aluminum on the inside and the outside, thermally broken. There’s a couple really interesting details about this.

And this modern house that my company’s building right in the heart of Austin, Texas has 45 of their windows, three of their swing doors, and four sliders, including a brand new slider that’s never been seen before. Today’s build show is sponsored by Weather Shield, let’s get going guys.

Let’s go meet Jimmy, my Texas rep, and we’re going to talk through a couple of these windows in the front porch. Hey Jimmy! Matt, how are you? Good man, thanks for coming out to the job site today. Thanks for having us and more importantly, thank you for using our product. For sure!

So let’s give these guys, Jimmy, some of the interesting points about the View collection that they probably don’t know about. Now Jimmy, we worked with Design Trait Architecture on this job, and when they went to the Exclusive Windows and Doors showroom to look at a bunch of different options, this absolutely stood out. As I love the architect, direct quote from Becky: “I love the really thin sight lines here.” That was definitely an aesthetic they were looking for.

When we think about the View collection, I’m assuming that’s a big part of your selling proposition? Without a doubt. I think the design flexibility and aesthetic that you get within this product line’s really cool. It gives the architect, the designer, a lot of different options to work with. For example, here you’ve got an exterior glaze system with different exterior bead options to choose from.

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Okay, so let’s back up one quick second. This is an aluminum window, uh, even though we’ve got these real thin lines here, it’s aluminum, not steel. And then on the inside of the window also aluminum, but I think I mentioned earlier, it’s got a thermal break, meaning aluminum is pretty conductive, right?

We make uh aluminum wiring ‘cuz it conducts electricity well, but we don’t want that aluminum to go inside and out. We want to avoid non-thermally broken or continuous aluminum or steel in a modern house, but yours has a break in the middle. What is this?

So it’s a polyamide thermal break. And as important as your design aesthetic is, performance is really important too, especially here in Austin.

Hey friends, have you heard the term “thermal break” before? I’ve got a visual demonstration for you of a thermal break that we use on a pretty daily basis. Think about that coffee cup, you know, you pour that boiling water into a coffee cup, and I’ve only got an inch or so of insulation between uh my fingers and that water, which is at least 100 degrees hotter than my fingers, and yet I can hold that coffee cup no problem. That’s breaking the thermal uh transfer between the hot water and my skin.

Now on the other hand, if I were to use an aluminum cup, oh my gosh, I can’t even hold it, it’s so hot. That is not going to be a very good job of – it’s going to do a good job of transferring the heat, but it’s not going to do a good job of making a break between the heat.

So aluminum, fantastic material, it’s not going to rot, it’s not going to degrade in the sun, but it transfers heat pretty well. So if I was going to use an aluminum window on the job site, I might want to get a thermal break on that aluminum window.

So this is pretty much the same sandwich as a thermally broken window where I’ve got a material, an insulation, and another material. And now this coffee cup here is basically the same temperature as the surrounding air and I can hold that coffee cup no problem. That’s a good thermal break example.

No better build, better. It’s hot out, we don’t want that heat transferring to the inside, so this big piece of basically plastic uh is preventing this aluminum from conducting that heat to this aluminum or cold, depending on what climate you’re in, right? Yep, got it.

So then the thing I want to point out on that is this real thin sideline though. Aluminum is a very strong material, and so they’re able to design this with a pretty thin frame even though we’ve got a ton of glass in a few places in this house. Yeah, so it gives you the opportunity for some really big glass with some really small sight lines. So we’re mimicking what a lot of people want out of a steel product and a thermally broken aluminum. I like that.

Now you mentioned that I can do a different stop on this, this is glazed from the exterior, meaning if if my kids break this glass, we can actually pop off this exterior glazing bead, change the glass, and pop that bead back on. But there’s more than one bead option for this, right?

Yes, there’s actually several beads that we have to choose from. And as you start to go into our pallet of exterior choices, beveled is really hot for us right now, and this actually really starts to mimic the steel look. So you can go beveled narrow, or we also also offer a square bead that we’ll see later on the multi-slide doors.

It’s interesting, this beveled kind of reminds me of a classic kind of putty glaze almost, where you’ve got that beveled glazing on there. It’s interesting, it’s contemporary but it hearkens back to a traditional window. That’s kind of interesting, uh and one thing that uh you pointed out to me earlier is your bead on the outside actually conceals your weep holes on this. So as I look at this window,

I don’t see any weep holes anywhere, but they’re in there, you just don’t see them, right? Yeah, so when you take a step back, we don’t want you to see that punched weep on the exterior, that weep flap. We really wanted a clean aesthetic design out of this product.

I like that, so this drop leg right here uh hides that weep from your eye, but of course we need that weep – this has an internal drain system, any water that gets back there, it needs to weep out. So that’s pretty cool little design, I like that. Yeah, it’s a really simple, clean what we’re calling ‘s reveal’ within the system, hiding that weep.

Now, Jimmy, when I think of aluminum or contemporary windows, I think most people naturally either go to black or silver, but that’s not the only options, right? No, we have actually an extensive color palette to work with. Top to bottom, across the Weather Shield collection, within View, you have 66 colors to choose from.

Holy cow! And six anodized, how about that. And the really cool part, if you look at our extrusions, you actually have two separate extrusions, allowing you the ability to split finish. So you could do, uh, clear anodized on the exterior, white on the interior, pink or purple, you know, let your imagination run. That’s wild!

Any uh, any idea of what that costs to add those split finishes or go to those different colors besides, I’m assuming, anodized or black is kind of the standard color and those are a cost upgrade? Yeah, when you start to talk to the architect, the designer, the homeowner, the builder, what is, what is aluminum to them?

It’s black or bronze. And so we wanted to disrupt the market, open up a color palette of 66 colors to choose from, and all at the same price. That’s pretty cool, so no, no upcharge on those whatsoever? No, I like that, yeah, very cool.

Jimmy, we’ve got a door on this job, a sliding door that’s never been done before. Your crew is in the process of installing this door as we speak right over here. We’ve got this really interesting spot in the house that’s a screen porch that’s really an internal room/external room. It’s kind of hard to explain, but these guys will get it when they look at the uh, when you look at the video. Um, talk to me about that door, walk me through what that’s going to be.

Yeah, so from an engineering process where we started, you know, 12 months ago, we’ve got a really cool inverted 90-degree corner unit that also pockets, um, really excited to see that one go into today. That’s pretty neat, so the pocketed side is going to be the door that my client’s going to use to let the dog out, uh, that one’s pretty easy to slide.

But then the other side is how many, five, five leaves that all pocket, or I should say nest, into one side? Yeah, so we got five panels going in one direction and one panel going the other, completely pocketing, giving you that entire opening to work with. That’s pretty awesome.

And of course, my team’s been working really hard to make sure that we’ve got a pretty flush interior to exterior on this job, uh, so that you won’t feel like you step down when you go outside. That’s something I’ve learned over the years, is if you have to step down to go outside, you want to go out there less, mentally. I don’t get it, but it’s,

I found that true with my own house when I made that mistake years ago. Whereas, my current house, flush inside to out, I love that line. That’s really something that we’re seeing in more and more houses, contemporary or traditionally.

Uh, I’ll tell you what guys, let’s go upstairs and meet my project manager Jason. We’re going to talk through a couple of nerdy details on some of these sliders on this job, so I’ll see you upstairs.

All right guys, let me introduce you to Jason, my project manager. Jason’s really the real builder on this job site. Jason’s project’s looking amazing by the way. Thank you, love it, love having you out here.

So Jason is not just a regular builder though, uh, Jason for many years before he worked for me was actually a pro window and door installer and ran several crews. So rather than just hearing from the rep, I wanted to hear from your take, Jason. And having been around all kinds of windows and doors and installing a lot, what are some things you like about these in comparison to some of the other products we’ve used over the years?

Yeah, so it’s a really cool product. Some of the, some of the things I want to show you today are on this door. This is an oxxo, so it’s a bi-parting door, okay? So when we say ‘o’ meaning fixed, ‘xx’ movable, so we got two fixed panels and two movables, right? So we’ve got nice smooth operation, one finger operation.

And most sliding doors are going to have a stop for your oper, operable panels, and ‘cuz you’re going to hit your handle, you got handle out, right? And so we’ve got flush-fit handles with a little pop out for your pull. So even with the handles, this will, this will flush all the way into the frame, check that out. And you’ve got this nice clean flush fit here, and you’ve got another six, seven inches on your opening, it’s going to make a nice big opening.

Yeah, that’s cool. And we’re going out to a porch area too here, so I could see a lot of nice days in Austin where these doors could be wide open for this room. So this is not a primary entry door, it’s really more for ambiance, open it up on a pretty day.

Yeah, we see a lot of that in our contemporary houses here in Austin, where architects are really trying to bring that outdoors in, and this is a great way to do it. That’s right, and this is the primary bedroom, so they wanted some privacy on this wall, but a lot of glass and view looking out the back with all the uh, forest behind us here. Yeah, they got a great view here.

What’s different about the sill on this door? So there’s a lot of thought put into this sill, um, one thing that we’ve got to be aware of is we want to be thermally broke, uh, for efficiency. So they’ve got an aluminum, fiberglass, aluminum sill, so that creates our thermal break. It’s also got uh these weep holes on the front.

Yep, what’s nice about these is they’re not buried at the bottom of the frame like you, nor they’re kind of mid frame, aren’t they? That’s right, about halfway up. So if this was set flush on the floor or there was a lot of debris, leaves, those can get clogged up pretty easily. So this gives you a little more breathing room, like the ramp on the inside still meets out to the bottom of these. That makes sense.

Now we’re not flush on this sill, we’ve got a uh, uh, we’ve got a waterproof deck outside, and it looks to me like this door sitting in a pan. Which that pan is basically right on top of our Advant uh decking here. Talk me through those details, why did we decide to do that, what’s the pan and how’s the pan integrate with the roof?

So this can be set as a flush sill, we didn’t do it here because we have a PVC roof. In order to maintain our warranty, we’ve got to have a continued piece of that PVC that climbs into the opening. Yeah, so anything under 6 inches to maintain that warranty, we’ve got to have that PVC. Yeah, so we’re like four and a half, years of, you said we’re at four and a half here, which will allow for our deck, uh, that we’re going to build on top to flush out to the outside.

Yeah, by the way, this is a great detail, nothing to do with these doors, but I love the sight protection you got – a piece of foam on top of our PVC and then you put some uh inexpensive OSB, so as people are working, we’re setting the doors, we’re not uh grinding down on a screw on top of our roof. Exactly, that’s that’s good PM work right there, brother.

Now downstairs though, we have a different seal condition. We’ve got a door real similar to this one in our basement, opening up to a light well. Talk me through that.

So our downstairs room is a fitness room, and it’s a concrete finished floor, yep. Uh, after the fact they added a gym flooring that’s about a quarter inch thick, so we’re flushed at the concrete now. But they have a sill riser component that we can add to it that gives us a little quarter inch rise and allows us to flush out with that floor. That’s pretty smart.

Another thing I like about that is it allows the threshold to be stepped down a little bit from our interior finish. That’s pretty cool. And they have, I think, even another option that you could go a little higher if you had a flooring change.

So there’s more than one option here – flush, rise a quarter, and I want to see, other one’s like an inch and a quarter or something, got an inch and a quarter. So even if you set this on top of your decking and you’ve got, you know, a stone interior, you could have an interior flush. That’s pretty cool, that’s smart.

Also want to point out, I really like how you dropped the sill for that door, we’ve got a sill pan in concrete, so as you come out to that outside, if water were to build up there, it’s not going to run into that basement space. That’s great detail, Jason.

Jason, anything else on the outside of this door you want to point out? There is something I want to show you that’s really cool. If you follow me over here, so here on the side, there’s an integrated channel that allows us to run sighting behind it and hide it without additional piece of trim or piece of j-flashing, so you really get a clean finish. That’s really nice, so in other words, this front piece has basically a recess right behind here so that can kind of slide in behind? That’s a great detail, looks really good.

By the way, awesome job on all the uh polyguard Alumaflash on the outside of this house. You’ll notice he’s got blue barrier detailing, uh, for air sealing in a bunch of places. And that blue barrier also is sticking from Alumaflash to concrete, ‘cuz you got all kinds of different things going on, we’ve got basement windows right up against concrete. I mean, all kinds of tough waterproofing details made a lot easier with that, isn’t there?

That’s right. And and that’s a good point too, this has an integrated flange to the frame, so I really like those stronger flanges. That’s a great point, I didn’t even think about that. This has this integrated flashing flange, not a lot of manufacturers have that, right? That’s good stuff. And if you had to do any kind of shimming in between, it doesn’t flex the shim, it holds rigid to the frame. I like that. Yeah, it’s a nice feature.

Jason, beautiful install over here, brother. I’m assuming that we’re still, still have a little bit of interior air sealing to do in these doors and windows, right? Yeah, so Matt, we still need to do some air sealing. What we’ll do is create a liquid back dam all the way around the bottom of this pan and follow around the edge, and that’ll air seal completely. Yeah, that also acts as a stop if water were to get into that pan, right? It’s not going to back up into the house, and we get that really good air sealing.

You know it’s funny, is we shut this door, we’re in a pretty nice day here in Austin in the wintertime. But one of the things I like about Weather Shield, uh Jason, is that they’re based in Wisconsin. They have some terrible weather up there, their winters are much worse than our winters. And this is a 65-year-old company, and I like that they’re based in a terrible climate because that means their engineers for decades had to deal with builders like you and I that would not have put up with, uh, you know, snow coming through those windows and doors when it’s 5 degrees outside and blowing wind.

Which means that when you translate that now to a more modern window and door, they still have all that embedded knowledge. And one thing I want to mention to, uh, to people watching this video, is when you’re ordering windows and doors, think about where they’re going. Like this door that Jason installed here, we’ve got like a 10-ft overhang, we’ve got several feet on either side of the door, so this, this door might see a little bit of wind, it’s really not going to see any water hitting the door anywhere. So we’re not, not as worried about putting a battleship in this location.

Whereas some other windows and doors in this house, uh, minor overhangs, very contemporary. Also remember, flat roofs don’t have that wind foil effect, so even though you got an overhang on a flat roof, it could be a one or two foot overhang, it’s not going to be the same as an overhang on a pitched roof. You’re going to get water almost all the way up to your sill if there’s any bit of wind and rain going.

So we really need to think about best practices, which also means if you look at most of our casement windows, our swing doors, they have a very high uh performance rating. They call that PG rating, sometimes you’ll see that DP or design pressure rating.

That’s a rating that all the window and door manufacturers uh have a test for where they blow air and a spray rack at these windows and doors. And depending on how much they can hold out with wind and water, that gives you a higher rating. And most of our swing doors and windows are something like a 50 or a 60 rating, which is real high. Some of the other doors might be a little lower that are undercover. And when you get multiple sliders and multiple movement, it’s hard to get that higher rating.

But be cautious about that, you know? As Jason and I built real contemporary houses over the years, we’ve had problems before where you’ve got a door that’s high exposure, not a lot of cover, and if a lot of wind and water are hitting that door in the right conditions, it can have that water come in.

We’ve got hardwoods here, that’s a more precious floor, uh, we need to be cautious about that. If this was a single story house with a concrete slab, a little water gets on that tile floor/concrete floor, it’s not as big a deal.

Guys, thanks for watching, hopefully you picked up some good tips from Jason and I. Really fun to review this Weather Shield View collection, some incredible stuff. Big thanks to Exclusive Windows and Doors, that’s my local dealer that’s doing this install for me too, great people, but they’ve got a great network of course throughout the whole country.

So we’ll put a link in the description, uh, for these guys. Big thanks to them for sponsoring today’s video. If you’re not currently a subscriber guys, hit that subscribe button below, we’ve got new content here every Tuesday and every Friday, follow us on TikTok or Instagram. Otherwise, we’ll see you next time on the Build Show!

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